We hope you are safe and well and adjusting to our new reality. We are adjusting too. The safety and security of our staff and the public is our highest priority. But, even working from our homes, we are continuing to help people and institutions who depend on our grants, loans, preservation services, and advocacy.
Our Sacred Sites staff, Ann Friedman and Colleen Heemeyer, are finishing reports on the 29 institutions who have applied for grants in our current grant round. Many of these are for projects costing $250,000 and more for major roof or bell tower repairs. Normally, Ann and Colleen would have traveled to each of the applicants to see the building conditions for themselves. Before things began shutting down, both of them did visit Long Island applicants. Colleen also managed to drive to six Hudson Valley applicants from Goshen in Orange County to Hartford in Washington County–a 530-mile trip. Ann was preparing to drive to Syracuse, instead of flying as usual, when we realized it was not advisable. Ann and Colleen are now holding conference calls with the remaining applicants. And congregants have been helpful sending in additional pictures of damaged areas.
Our Sacred Sites Committee will meet using Zoom video conferencing at the end of April to award the grants. We normally give out some $530,000 a year, divided into two grant rounds. We are often the only outside help these institutions receive. Helping maintain these irreplaceable buildings helps the congregations of course. But many of these institutions also offer programs for the wider community. Last year’s 45 grantees provided social and cultural programs to 645,000 individuals beyond their congregations. This is the only statewide program of its kind in the country. Over the past 34 years, we’ve given 1,519 grants totaling $11.5 million to more than 800 institutions of all denominations.
Also this week, The Trust for Governors Island gave us a confidential look at plans for reusing buildings in the Island’s historic district and an update on rezoning plans for the remainder of the island. The historic district was rezoned in 2013 to allow new uses in the buildings. The south side was scheduled to start the rezoning process in April. But that’s now on hold. The central portion of the south side will stay as parkland but the Trust has two areas where they are planning for appropriate new development to occur. Our Public Policy Committee will review the plans when public to make sure that reuses, and new development, are compatible with the historic character of the Island.
We will get through this. In the meantime, the Conservancy will stay on top of issues and continue our programs. We will always work to preserve the City we love.
Best wishes from all of us,
Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy